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Prosper Mérimée

The French novelist Prosper Mérimée was born on September 28, 1803 in Paris. Mérimée initially attended the Lycée Napoleon starting in 1815 and completed his law studies there. Even during this time, he began to work as an author. He also gained access to the Paris artistic and literature circles early on. He prepared studies in painting under J. R. Auguste and J. Grenier and was friends with Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863). Prosper Mérimée became acquainted with Stendhal (1783–1842) in 1822 and later also with the Romantic Victor Hugo (1802-85) and Charles Nodier (1780–1844).
His first printed work "Théâtre de Clara Gazul, comédienne espagnole" was published in 1825. The writer travelled through England from 1825-26 and Spain in 1830. His other literary works are the historic novel 1572: "Chronique du règne de Charles IX" (1829) and a series of 25 stories that appeared in 1829-30. After Prosper Mérimée joined the new régime of the "citizen king" Louis Philippe (1773–1850) following the July Revolution of 1830, he had increasingly less time to write. He first held some higher posts in the ministry and was then elected to the office of the chief French preservationist ("Inspecteur général des monuments historiques de France"). He was frequently en route in this function.
During his journeys, Prosper Mérimée prepared small watercolors and illustrated his letters and manuscripts with original pen and ink sketches. However, he never presented himself as an artist to the public. Occasional illustrations of his printed works appeared anonymously or under a pseudonym. In his "Notes d’un voyage dans le midi de la France" (1835), the writer describes his visit to southern Europe in his office as inspector of the historic monuments. In 1844, Prosper Mérimée was elected into the Académie Français. He was appointed to be an office of the Legion of Honor in 1852. In 1853, he became a member of the Upper House of Parliament. Because of his affliction with asthma, he had to resign his office as preservationist in 1860. During the last years of his life, he became the mediator of contemporary Russian literature in France.
Prosper Mérimée died on September 23, 1870 in Cannes.


 
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